Psi -- Open Discussion

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ubik2 ubik2's picture
Lurkingdaemon wrote:One

Lurkingdaemon wrote:
One question I can't seem to answer in the current draft of the playtest: do Asyncs get 'free' Psi sleights based on the level of Psi they pick up? I.e. does a level 1 Psi character get a single Psi-Chi sleight, or a level 2 Psi character get their choice of 2 Sleights (chi or gamma) to start?

It doesn't look like there are any free sleights.
In the Making Characters section, they tell you that you should set aside some CP to spend on sleights (page 3, Playing an Async), and later say you'll want to spend some on sleights (page 11, Psi Sleights).
From the Psi section, they say you must purchase psi sleights with CP (page 2, Prerequisites).

The sleights are only 1 CP each, so picking one up is as cheap as it gets.

Given the game's guidance, I don't think many people will make a character without any sleights, but if they do, they can consider the 2-4 points spent as purchasing narrative permission to add them later. They may just be role-playing a mechanically weaker Lost character, who rejects the Psi power (a rational choice), but still has it (along with the mental instability). In this case, they probably aren't going to invest in the skill either.

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
ubik2 wrote:The sleights are

ubik2 wrote:
The sleights are only 1 CP each, so picking one up is as cheap as it gets.

That's something I missed then, as I recall sleights being far more expensive (or was mixing up my costs between 1st Ed and 2nd).

UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
It's 5 CP in 1E, which really

It's 5 CP in 1E, which really isn't a huge deal with 300 CP to spend freely, but yeah, it's 1 in 2E

H-Rep: An EP Homebrew Blog
http://ephrep.blogspot.com/

nerol-1 nerol-1's picture
Comments after 2 playtest

Hi
In the last week I played 2 EP2 adventures with seasoned players, all new to Eclipse Phase.
I want to test the new rules with friends who could give me good opinions without making comparisons with EP1.

Me and the players have the feeling of playing an infected character. The group, due to the possibility of having an async out of control, was afraid that something could go wrong using the sleights.
The async player was noy the only one concerned about damage and sleight drawback
From this poit of view, I thinik the new rules are a big improvement.

In one test, a player was a level 1 async. She had few moxie points, so she prefered not to supercharge her sleights (and not let me test the consequences).
The psi drawback kept her more quite and paranoid, making the other players think she could be infected or she was going to loose her mind soon.
From a game point of view, she never rolled for Infection but the game created good role playing moments.

The other player was a level 2 async, so I was finally able to test the mechanincs.
The increase of the Infection rating was a better deterrent than the damage. The player was much more worried to loose control or suffer a Compulsion than taking damage.
Another point for EP2.

Ciao

il NeRo
www.sentinellefirewall.blogspot.it
The blog about the adventures of 4 Italian Sentinels

lets adapt lets adapt's picture
ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:

I've decided to make this a partial cross-post with the Action and Combat thread:

This is perhaps beyond the scope of allowable changes, but I'd like to see Stress slightly refurbished to represent short-term stability, recharging quickly like durability. This would move it away from representing purely mental trauma and towards more general non-physical effects.

What I'm thinking is basing SV gain and Strain Effects on Opposed Tests) – when using Gamma sleights, The Async takes [Strain Mod] SV and a Strain Effect applies if the Target succeeds on their roll (regardless if they win the test or not), and takes 1d6SV if they fail their test.
Empowering sleights involves a test opposed by their Infection Rating.

On the flipside, I'd take the Infection Rating/Strain system as it is now and generalise it to cover long term disorders; disorders increase your 'Instability' (or whatever) rating which is checked when exposed to Triggering stimuli. Your base value is10 +20 for each disorder you have, with other effects like phobias or neurological damage also increasing this value.
Stressful/calming situations would provide short term bonuses/penalties.

As characters are exposed to disturbing situations they become more and more burdened with psychological problems (negative traits), which in turn affect their actions/effectiveness in-game, until they finally break down (Base Instability 100>), and stop being a player character.

Would this be interesting/plausible at this design stage?

I really like this.

Maudova Maudova's picture
lets adapt wrote

lets adapt wrote:
ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:

...

Would this be interesting/plausible at this design stage?

I really like this.

I echo these statements. I think a short term SV value would open it up for additional use, which would echo how stress and disorders affect real people. In that stress builds and people become triggered, disorders flair, and in most cases stress lowers, disorders become manageable for a time, and therapeutic practices help manage symptoms. It would also open up more cases for stress to be effective without crippling everyone that enters into a stressful situation, such as being subject to stressful social situations due to having ideals being challenged, being doxed, humiliated, or having to make hard decisions during those times stress should increment however if stress values were inflicted in those situations now it would have a very real possibility to just take your character out.

Using the Infection rating system for disorders is a graceful way of transitioning the system.

~Alpha Fork Initialized.
P.S. I often post from my phone as I travel extensively for work. Please forgive typos and grammar issues.

RobBoyle RobBoyle's picture
Maudova wrote:Chi Sleight

Maudova wrote:
Chi Sleight Emotion Control and Gamma Sleight Drive Emotion both refer to "glanding". However there is nothing referred to as glanding in the game that I can tell. Is this referring to the augmentation listed as glands, or is it something else? If it's not glands based what exactly does it do?

It refers to gland ware. Here are the rules:

Glanding is the deliberate use of mood-manipulating neurotransmitters to control your emotions and mental state. Each time you gland, pick an emotion and a set of minor positive and negative modifiers that are appropriate to the selected mood. Some examples:

Emotion
Modifiers
Dampen emotions
+10 Deceive, –10 Provoke
Boost emotions
+10 Provoke, –10 Deceive
Focus
+10 detailed Perceive, –10 basic Perceive
Alertness
+10 basic Perceive, –10 detailed Perceive
Calm
+10 WIL Check, –10 Kinesics
Emotional Sensitivity
+10 Kinesics, –10 WIL Check
Concentration
–25% task timeframes, –10 Persuade
Trust
+10 Persuade, –10 SAV Check
Suspicion
+10 SAV Check, –10 Persuade

Other emotions: Happiness, aggressiveness, sadness, remorse, sleepiness, etc.

Glanding effects last for 1 hour, though they may be extended, terminated, or switched at will, taking 1 full Action Turn.

Maudova wrote:

Psi Shield states it give +1d10 psi armor. Is that rolled every time a psi power is used to attack the character and subtracted from the total or is it a typo and it's a +10 as per EP1?

It's an artifact from it originally being a gamma sleight. Noted to fix.

Maudova wrote:

Does Implant Skill remove it from the async and give it to the target, or does it just reproduce the async's skill? Can the async implant the Psi skill for the purposes of letting their allies detect when a hostile sleight is used against them? How much of the skill is implanted in the target, is it a base of say 40+10 per superior success or is it an all or nothing effect?

It reproduces the async's skill. Currently it implants it at half the async's skill.

Psi skill can't be implanted if the target doesn't have the Psi trait.

Maudova wrote:

Somatic Healing seems weak comparatively to other sleights, it also appears out of place. EP1 nano bandages do a similar level of durability restoration and medichines are better. Also I am not even sure I like this ability in an Async's repertoire. Telepathy, mind reading, cooky precognitive effects sure, but I am not really sold on actual healing. I know you don't have to justify it to me but I am curious what is the thought process behind this sleight?

Yes, it is a stretch. There's an argument to be made that the nervous system could be triggered to increase platelet production, accelerate keratinocytes, and stimulate nerve patterns, or some similar handwavium. Interested in feedback on it -- do you like that asyncs can play the healer role, or do you feel it's out of place?

Rob Boyle :: Posthuman Studios

RobBoyle RobBoyle's picture
Lurkingdaemon wrote:Quote:Do

Lurkingdaemon wrote:
Quote:
Do asyncs suffer from morph fever any more? When residing within a synthmorph, is the only drawback is that they can't use their psi abilities?

I haven't seen anything that clarifies this so far, and it would be good to know if Morph Fever does/doesn't exist.

Morph fever was taken out of EP2.

Rob Boyle :: Posthuman Studios

RobBoyle RobBoyle's picture
Lurkingdaemon wrote:One

Lurkingdaemon wrote:
One question I can't seem to answer in the current draft of the playtest: do Asyncs get 'free' Psi sleights based on the level of Psi they pick up? I.e. does a level 1 Psi character get a single Psi-Chi sleight, or a level 2 Psi character get their choice of 2 Sleights (chi or gamma) to start?

No free sleights, you have to buy them.

Rob Boyle :: Posthuman Studios

o11o1 o11o1's picture
Maudova wrote:

Maudova wrote:

Somatic Healing seems weak comparatively to other sleights, it also appears out of place. EP1 nano bandages do a similar level of durability restoration and medichines are better. Also I am not even sure I like this ability in an Async's repertoire. Telepathy, mind reading, cooky precognitive effects sure, but I am not really sold on actual healing. I know you don't have to justify it to me but I am curious what is the thought process behind this sleight?

Yes, it is a stretch. There's an argument to be made that the nervous system could be triggered to increase platelet production, accelerate keratinocytes, and stimulate nerve patterns, or some similar handwavium. Interested in feedback on it -- do you like that asyncs can play the healer role, or do you feel it's out of place?

Asyncs doing healing is kinda weird. Emulating the effects of Glanding on someone else (to knock them out before surgery or to constrict their blood vessels to reduce bleeding could be useful in a medical context. They are not "healing straight up" in the classic sense though.

I feel it's a good place for EP's scifi setting to help make a break from the classic fantasy tropes of what a spellcaster should be doing.

A slight smell of ions....

Maudova Maudova's picture
Psi-Clarifications and Opinions

RobBoyle wrote:
Maudova wrote:
Chi Sleight Emotion Control and Gamma Sleight Drive Emotion both refer to "glanding". However there is nothing referred to as glanding in the game that I can tell. Is this referring to the augmentation listed as glands, or is it something else? If it's not glands based what exactly does it do?

It refers to gland ware. Here are the rules...

Thank you. I appreciate your clarification.

RobBoyle wrote:
Maudova wrote:

Psi Shield states it give +1d10 psi armor. Is that rolled every time a psi power is used to attack the character and subtracted from the total or is it a typo and it's a +10 as per EP1?

It's an artifact from it originally being a gamma sleight. Noted to fix.


Would you please tell us what it is supposed to do?

RobBoyle wrote:
Maudova wrote:

Does Implant Skill remove it from the async and give it to the target, or does it just reproduce the async's skill? Can the async implant the Psi skill for the purposes of letting their allies detect when a hostile sleight is used against them? How much of the skill is implanted in the target, is it a base of say 40+10 per superior success or is it an all or nothing effect?

It reproduces the async's skill. Currently it implants it at half the async's skill.

Psi skill can't be implanted if the target doesn't have the Psi trait.

Does it overwrite the targets skill or is the implanted skill additive? If it's an overwrite does it give them the Async's Specialties on a exceptional or critical success? If additive does it have a cap?

o11o1 wrote:
RobBoyle wrote:
Maudova wrote:

Somatic Healing seems weak comparatively to other sleights, it also appears out of place. EP1 nano bandages do a similar level of durability restoration and medichines are better. Also I am not even sure I like this ability in an Async's repertoire. Telepathy, mind reading, cooky precognitive effects sure, but I am not really sold on actual healing. I know you don't have to justify it to me but I am curious what is the thought process behind this sleight?

Yes, it is a stretch. There's an argument to be made that the nervous system could be triggered to increase platelet production, accelerate keratinocytes, and stimulate nerve patterns, or some similar handwavium. Interested in feedback on it -- do you like that asyncs can play the healer role, or do you feel it's out of place?

Asyncs doing healing is kinda weird. Emulating the effects of Glanding on someone else (to knock them out before surgery or to constrict their blood vessels to reduce bleeding could be useful in a medical context. They are not "healing straight up" in the classic sense though.

I feel it's a good place for EP's scifi setting to help make a break from the classic fantasy tropes of what a spellcaster should be doing.

I sort of agree with 01101 here. I can't rightly see how this would work under the current paradigm as it takes them into the realm of space wizards/priests.

Now maybe if gamma sleights were categorized differently, some that would interact with neurology and some with physiology. I could see a division where some sleights work purely on biology, the Async took DV from the use, had slightly different reactions to failing infection tests and super charging, whereas neurological sleights followed the standard rules (already placed in the playtest doc). The division could go deeper than that, but I am one of those players that doesn't mind rules complexity. I play games like the Hero's system and Exalted and I'm fine, so mileage may vary.

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I would have a division of 3 tiers of gamma slights. Biological, Neurological, and extrasensory. All under the same skill of course. the far end of each of these sleight categories would edge on less hard scifi concepts, such as bio-healing and minor shape changing, extending your senses outside of the body seeing around corners and boosting you sense to crazy levels and of course Grok, as well as the higher end neurosleights we already have out there like Basilisk stare, Illusion, Subliminal etc.

If the game went that far with sleights then I could see healing being something they could do. But that takes it out of the mountains of madness cosmic horror genre and into a higher scifi realm of game.

~Alpha Fork Initialized.
P.S. I often post from my phone as I travel extensively for work. Please forgive typos and grammar issues.

UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
Personally, I like Somatic

Personally, I like Somatic Healing. Its part of what I think is a good expansion of roles of Asyncs as support and generally how I tended to seek Asyncs in the past kind of as just enhancing what you can do period - Asyncs don't do anything you can't do through other routes but it does it in ways which are often physically simple (via touch) and impossible to remove, and may be more reliable than pure tech. They can already do the party buff role by giving others pool points - and honestly there's a lot of weird, psychosomatic elements to health.

But I also get it's a bit of a departure from the idea of Asyncs previously (though really, if you can inflict DV/Wounds you should be able to undo them) and their limited ability to interact with physicality. Perhaps a note to GMs that if particular sleights do not fit their ideal tone for a game then can be barred - just like a GM can prevent availability of certain morphs and gear as they think is appropriate?

H-Rep: An EP Homebrew Blog
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Kojak Kojak's picture
I'd just like to make one

I'd just like to make one pitch regarding Temporary sleight duration being based on SAV/5: if you don't want everything around Psi based on WIL (a totally reasonable concern), why not INT/5? That would seem to make way more sense than SAV, at least by my lights.

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Psi Traits?

One question regarding Psi is in relation to some of the traits that were had in 1st Ed:

Async familiarity, Dominant strain, etc.

Do we want these back? I ask because I thought they were cool and flavorful traits.

As an example: Dominant Strain could now trigger one of an Async character's strain effects by default, in addition to reversing the penalty of their Mental Vulnerability.

o11o1 o11o1's picture
Lurkingdaemon wrote:One

Lurkingdaemon wrote:
One question regarding Psi is in relation to some of the traits that were had in 1st Ed:

Async familiarity, Dominant strain, etc.

Do we want these back? I ask because I thought they were cool and flavorful traits.

As an example: Dominant Strain could now trigger one of an Async character's strain effects by default, in addition to reversing the penalty of their Mental Vulnerability.

As in they have a specific strain effect that triggers preferentially?

A slight smell of ions....

Lurkingdaemon Lurkingdaemon's picture
Random strain

Quote:
As in they have a specific strain effect that triggers preferentially?

I think triggering strain is always a random outcome (d6 to determine which one out of the 6 specific to the async character) - if not, then that's what I meant.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Drive the Demons OUT!

I think the problem with Somatic Healing is that the mechanics are too vaguely connected to how it's supposed to work.
I'd suggest replacing it with one or both of these:

'Directed Convalescence' - Touch | Complex | 2 hours
The next time the target heals physical damage within duration, they [EITHER Heal the Maximum amount possible OR Heal an additional 2d10].

'Somatic Deregulation' - Touch | Complex | Minutes
The Target does not fall unconscious when their accumulated damage exceeds their durability. If the target takes a wound whilst subject to this Sleight, it ends immediately.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Eciraf Eciraf's picture
"Supercharging" and Exurgent Mode

In one hand, I like how psi characters are tortured and it’s more of another way to play than acquiring a huge advantage. In that way, a group doesn’t necessary need a psi to be optimized. In the other hand, wider use psi like suggested Maudova is interesting.

I don’t think that psi healing and other somatic effects should be a no-go, but that the concerned sleights effects should be subtle, like most sleight are.

I’m in to switch “supercharging” to “overloading”, “empowering”, or “surrending”. I would like a note on if it is noticeable or not. Since it creates physicals damages, I assume that it is visually similar than somebody giving his best to take a dump… And I think that I would free myself from a handshake where the other is pushing himself like that. Or maybe a relevant SOM, WIL or Deceive/Kinesics test to not react when your ocular blood vessels explodes and not makes everyone around you fear you’ll turn in the new Hulk. And if the character manages to avoid damages with Moxies, then it is not noticeable.

Another point that I liked in this tread was the “what when the GM takes control of the psi character?” As a GM, I always try to not forget the exurgent origin of psi and the fact that the virus doesn’t just do things but have an ulterior motive. Yes, TITANs made some experiments (aka Venusians Exurgents), but even when not created to directly attack transhumans, they were built to infect them if the occasion showed up. So I choose to not let the Watts-MacLeod strain to just be an convenient unlikely accident from a sentient virus.

That’s why I see psi characters doomed to fall as full exurgents sooner or later, maybe the one after the other, maybe altogether. So, keeping all that in mind, I was wondering “what does the virus gain from the infection rate?” Isn’t it too convenient that, no matter how you push yourself in its arms, you will ever be fine after taking a nap? Yes, there is a chance to take stress damages from Compulsion Effects, but you’ll essentially just act weirdly. I suppose that the (IMO good) ideas like short term SV implies heavy modifications, but maybe adding an Infection Rating = 100 consequence is possible.
I was thinking of a LOT of stress damages and a Exurgent mode, where the player lose control and the character is temporarily able to use psi-epsilon sleights. With some fancy visuals effects, like partial body transformation in whatever alien type the strain make the character act, that cancel – or not– after the event. Imagine the arms, legs and neck that elongates while green and red feathers grows. And a healing vat rest should be able to restore the morph to its former haircut. It may be interesting to add a WIL check on top of that, with a -60 modifier, to allow the player to keep a mere control of the character. The Hulk is interesting because he doesn’t necessarily smash his ally and that would make the mechanic a risky joker.

Maybe I’m a bit of a sadist, but I can’t wait to announce to my crew that they’re all reinstancied, to let them find out that they were wiped from a massive frost from the async being on rampage mode from pushing himself too far and casted a nova on the foes. Or maybe to not unfairly kill the others players, but to give a real meaning to “feed the alien inside” and eventually to not revert back from the transformation if not from a backup.

I'm new to this forum! Please excuse my english, not a native speaker here.

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Gotta say, I really like the

Gotta say, I really like the new rules. We ran it yesterday and psi was powerful, but definitely had limitations and drove the plot forward. It was a real blast.

Proxy Bastion Proxy Bastion's picture
Typhoid Mary

For what it's worth. In my games I've treated the async's as a form of carrier for the Exsurgent virus. One that does not seemingly infect transhumans but when one of my psi player characters come in contact with seed AI I have them roll moxie x10 with critical failures causing infection.

Reshy Reshy's picture
What I'd like to see

I worry that the new mechanics will make PSI characters even weaker than they were prior, which was pretty weak as is. I do think that they need to be a bit more scary in terms of what they can do, but them developing the galloping crazies really often seems like it'd downplay any amount of covertness that a PSI character could possess. There's a couple things I'd like to see:

  • More detail on what PSI is and how it works.
  • Return of Dominant Strain.
  • Deeper exploration with an Async's relationship with their nature, and the "presence" most feel.
  • Some option to the Async to gain some control or mastery over their condition.
  • Options for long-term planning in relation to Sleight use, most are fairly transitory.
  • Option for Asyncs to use PSI Epsilon sleights and obtain PSI 3 at their own peril.

Now, let me go over those more in detail.

First, PSI is effectively Eclipse Phase's magic system (that and nanomachines, son). Because it's magic, it needs to be sold to the player to be believable within the context of the setting. This includes things like defining exactly how it works and what it can and cannot do. It already possesses some of these, but not nearly enough to make it what I would call consistent. Sanderson's First Law states that "An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic." Which I guess to get to the meat of things if you don't want to read the article itself is a couple questions that need to be answered: What are the "rules" of PSI; What can and can't it do, across the board? What does it feel like to be using a sleight, have a sleight used on you, or have a passive sleight? What's it like to develop Async powers, or learn new ones? I feel that PSI needs to be better characterized if it's to be believable to those playing the game. Someone who's being attacked by PSI needs to feel that it's not an arbitrary ad-hoc attack on their character, whilst the Async needs to feel like they can understand and really get into the mindset of what being an Async is really like and how their powers work from their own perspective.

Second, I want to see the Dominant Strain return. I liked it, it was effectively my "default" choice for playing Asyncs as it had a lot of roleplaying implications. I do feel that what separates the Dominant and Recessive strains needs to be explored in depth, and how and why someone would be infected with the strain to begin with. Is it acquired by resisting Exsurgent infection? Is it genetic or biological factors that alters the nature of the viruses? Is it acquired by a certain mindset or thought pattern that prevents full ETI takeover? Is it truly it's own strain separate from other strains? If it's truly the latter... why? There needs to be a reasonable in-universe explanation for why the ETI would want Asyncs as opposed to standard Exsurgents, even if you lock it away in the GM stuff (Now, I will be fair, I haven't scoured all the GM sections of the EP books so maybe I missed it).

Third, I'd like to see Asyncs have to actually develop a relationship with the virus itself, making it a bit more personal. I think that the "pick 6 manifestations" is a nice step, but it's kind of limited and doesn't give the GM too much to work with. Much of this goes back to the first one, but I'd really appreciate if there was more investment into the async's relationship with the infection and generally more stuff that the GM can do with it other than occasionally making them do something embarrassing or stupid. Do asyncs suffer nightmares or visions? What's the general disposition of the "presence" most asyncs feel? What are the lesser strange effects of PSI that are outside of the conscious directed use of Sleights? You know, the strange things that Asyncs can't really control besides their mannerisms.

Fourth, I'd like to see Asyncs have some ability to develop control or mastery over their condition, instead of it being an eternal struggle for control. Be it bargaining with the presence in their head, learning to mitigate the influence of the virus, gaining the ability to improve sleights beyond their initial capabilities, etc. Things that allows them to forge a path of their own with their condition and maybe even forge it into a 'talent'.

Fifth, I'd like to see Asyncs have access to powers that can enable them to be proper schemers, as most of their powers are fairly limited in what they can do. Limited by range, duration, and potency. Even as simple as allowing an Async to forge a more permanent connection with someone else's mind so that they can use their sleights on them from distance would be both terrifying and intriguing. An Async could be puppeting someone from an entirely different planet just from accidentally glad-handing them. I think powers or talents like that would definitely allow a more scheming power-hungry async to be played, and in a way introduce horror besides the typical alienation, born of a transhuman's greed or spite rather than ETI prodding. One might become drunk on the power being an Async grants them (of course this requires an async to not be weak).

Sixth, I'd like to see Epsilon Asyncs. Couple reasons for this: Gives more reason to develop Epsilon sleights beyond the current "GM Fiat" rendition, as well as giving Asyncs more insanity inducing powers with far more far-reaching impact. Who knows, maybe Asyncs who develop this far start to develop physical alterations as well as increased psionic potential, rather than looking weird or inhuman being solely reserved for NPCs.

Dr. Maxwell Dr. Maxwell's picture
Things I think this got wrong

Things I think this got wrong:

I am not a fan of how much asyncs lose control over their character, as others have said. While forcing asyncs to be weird and unusual when its useful is good, mechanics that regularly make you lose control over your PC strike me as AD&D's cavalier where you literally just didn't control yourself in combat. Part of the fun of playing an async is making weird choices, and just having the virus take over isn't that ideal, especially because it can potentially take you over for the majority of a game session if a fight breaks out in the second half of one. This is so bad it honestly is making me consider not using 2e asyncs at all, because I would rather trust my players to play up the weirdness than to control them for a short amount of in universe time but an unacceptable amount of out of universe time.

Honestly I feel like the strain results are... sorta missing the point in a way? Like asyncs aren't interesting because they sometimes act like weird movie monsters. Asyncs are interesting because the way they fundamentally think has changed in a scary as hell way and they all feel very clearly that something is now wrong with their brain in a way that is hard to explain. All in all they are just too damn big an effect for something that can crop up so frequently. Again, asyncs who do async things are not going to be in control over their PCs too often.

Its also really... unsubtle in a way that doesn't make sense for the kind of game EP is. EP is about being illegal conspiritorial spies, and if asyncs are constantly doing weird things like licking people to taste them or stripping to full nudity because... WEIRD.

Its all just... goofy. The old asyncs were much more unnerving because they were just normal people who now are terrified of their own minds and extremely prone to extremely deviant behavior, but otherwise were just like everyone else. They fit better into the horror aspect of the game as a take on psi, because most of their powers were pretty darn disturbing or just allowed them to better see and sense things. A 1e async could just be a normal accountant who one day discovers someone kept their infection secret and now something else is in their brain and they feel wrong in every way and need to go through life despite the fact a part of their mind now is eager to make people's eyes bleed upon touching them. A 2e async is kinda just... a gibbering freak pretty much all of the time which sort of defeats the purpose of it being a seemingly benign, very creepy strain of infection.

Its not to say that the effects necessarily need to not be inconvenient. But they need to be more subtle. If strain effects forced inappropriate, but not completely freakishly alien, behaviors, such as sociopath, a lack of empathy, too much empathy, profound sadness and happiness at the same time, hedonism, ect it would be more workable. That would be profoundly inconvinient in a way that makes the game more interesting and problematic for the party. But as is async strain basically shuts the game down, forces things to revolve around the async's fallout, and worst of all makes the async player sit out for a bit. Its a completely toxic mechanic that ensures I will never use psi 2e as it is written, despite how much I like the idea of an async's deviant behavior ebbing and flowing based on their management of the virus. Its just too binary. Worse, the fact there is a REALLY clear divide now between the async as "normal" and the async being "Async-y" means you lose out on the fundementally interesting question that an async raises: What happens when you can't trust your own mind to be yours?

I am also not too sure how to feel about async disorders being fundementally uncurable, but that is in part due to how overwhelming 1e disorders were combined with half the list basically being "You don't get to play EP today." That said it still feels weird and breaks with established canon that asyncs are "set in their ways." While its nice that now you can't ignore a downside of being async, asyncs are now basically so downside ladened its basically disruptive to playing the game. I would probably like it more if asyncs COULD cure their disorders but just naturally got new ones in time, and if their disorders could change. Also if there was a way for asyncs to "manage" their disorders that would be nice. Again, asyncs being constantly nutso is really... silly to me, and dilutes the horror elements of both being near and actually being an async heavily.

As many other people have said, the way base infection rating is set is very silly and not fun. At all. Mechanically punishing thematic choices is never good...

Spoiler: Highlight to view
The virus is also a lot less versatile as a story element because it makes you act... goofy. Watts MacLeod is really interesting because what it fundementally is is something unknown and disturbing. Some GMs will reveal part way through the story your PC's infection was never benign and kill you off, sometimes its based on the motivations of ETI, such as it really being about stellar eugenics trying to make the transhuman race more introspective and less rash by introducing asyncs as a really hard to distinguish boon from the bane of the virus, maybe it could be a strain reverse engineered to give transhumanity a fighting chance by the Argonauts but its still bug laden. Maybe its an Exturgent strain that, due to the virus's pseudo sapience, decided collaberation with transhumanity was ideal in its own weird as hell way. But the virus consistently making you act like a weird alien neither fits with it being a weird variation of the whispers virus and makes what it could be less varied and interesting. If as your infection rating rose your behavior overall changed rather than the chance of the virus throwing a tantrum changed, it would give GMs more leway to decide what the virus is.

Things I think this got right:

Morphing disorder was stupid and had nothing to do with actually being an async. Especially because asyncs due to how disorders just were so limited in options that were appropriate for an EP character to just have all the time caused asyncs as a rule generally had a ton of body dysphoria issues that made them really WANT to change bodies. It also was annoying because it was, much like how strain is now, really distruptive to force the game to grind to a halt over the wacky async every time you switch morphs.

A lot of the new sleights seem appropriately creepy and intense. It looks like it will feels good to use async powers that aren't just self buffs now, it feels like your really forcing something to happen that shouldn't happen, were as a lot of old async powers really didn't have a lot of utility in a setting with high tech sensors, really specific nanodrugs, and forknapping to interrogate an ego you endlessly fork off to effectively read its mind perfectly. The cool powers in my mind were always the ones that let an async do stuff that was fundementally weird and hard to emulate, like combining different chi sleights to have perfect recall of the stock ticker you saw 4 months ago, remembering it compared to the one today, calculating a bunch of numbers in your head, and recognizing a pattern out of nowhere to suddenly understand something that is currently happening and what will be happening next in a way neither a dumb brute force computer with a ton of processing power or a creative but weak transhuman mind could, using a combination of savant calculation, predictive boost, pattern recognition, and hyperthymesia. Sad that we are losing calculation and predictive boost is losing its "Role playing" powers.

The idea of the async having to have a relationship with their virus, with the virus waxing and waning, is really damn cool. Like it really is something that I like, its just as is the infection rating A: Just has an incoherent formula for base rating, B: goes down automatically rather than based on anything the async does to "keep a grip" and C: Forces you to lose control of your character in crass, distruptive, annoying, and silly ways that diminish a lot from the setting. Having the async get weirder the more they async is a good idea, it just needs to be executed better.

The TL;DR:?

While the infection rating is an interesting idea its execution is sloppy and just leads to amplifying the problems things like morph fever created. It would be really nice if the async player remained in control mostly and just had to take more and more notes on playing their PC as their infection rose, and it would be nice if infection rose and especially fell more through IC choices rather than random rolls based on a broken formula.

Asyncs in 2e currently are too "Wacky" and lack the subtle menace they used to have. While its nice that the virus's lore elements are more front and center in the mechanics the way asyncs changed made them too... pop cthuhlu-y. In that its basically now you using psionic superpowers to mess with badguys and deal with a goofy mental compulsion for a bit rather than this omnipresent uncertainty and dread about your own ability to trust your sense of self, when your very brain has obtianed untrustworthy elements that bleed through in ways you may not even notice yourself.

Remember that really short blurb about how an async got a braincase, and it amplified their idiosyncratic behavior, making them feel like their mind was truly free to wander the cosmos, and gave them an intense urge to gatecrash, overall making it seem not so much like the async was a gibbering madman but in some way maybe not fully... there? Like there was something vaguely wrong, not full out compulsions but a thought process in motivations one or two steps beyond our knowing? 2e asyncs don't do any of that, they make you jigger the thermostat around and literally fornicate with toasters.

What is my bid damn opinion on what to change that probably no one cares about?

Make strain be less about weird compulsions that make your PC impossible to play temporarily but instead be "passive" behaviors, like paranoia, sociopathy, overly-chummy behavior, ect, that get more and more intense in ways the PC may or may not notice even notice as your infection rises. Make infection go down not as a matter of time but as the PC actively trying to "get a handle" on the virus and get their brain back into balance. That is actually disturbing, inconvinient, and plays to the subtle menace Asyncs represent better than "Sometimes you get naked and try to lick people and eat their smart pets."

Also, rename the term overcharging to surrendering. As is infection rating is about how often the infection runs your brain rather than you. Surrendering is the coolest name in that context, and makes it really clear both why your power is getting stronger (You basically let the virus off the leash) and why that raises your infection rating (it is hard to reign back in). You aren't just using the power "harder." You are giving up control, and while mechanically losing control is lame, thematically it is awesome!

Don't forget to check out my open source biomorph and medtech files!

Reshy Reshy's picture
Dr. Maxwell wrote:Its also

Dr. Maxwell wrote:
Its also really... unsubtle in a way that doesn't make sense for the kind of game EP is. EP is about being illegal conspiritorial spies, and if asyncs are constantly doing weird things like licking people to taste them or stripping to full nudity because... WEIRD.

Honestly, as another user mentioned, it seems like Asyncs seem to have gone full on Fishmalk.

Which, as should be obvious, kind of detracts from the serious tones of the game when the Asyncs are acting wacky rather than creepy.

Dr. Maxwell wrote:
Its not to say that the effects necessarily need to not be inconvenient. But they need to be more subtle. If strain effects forced inappropriate, but not completely freakishly alien, behaviors, such as sociopath, a lack of empathy, too much empathy, profound sadness and happiness at the same time, hedonism, ect it would be more workable. That would be profoundly inconvinient in a way that makes the game more interesting and problematic for the party. But as is async strain basically shuts the game down, forces things to revolve around the async's fallout, and worst of all makes the async player sit out for a bit. Its a completely toxic mechanic that ensures I will never use psi 2e as it is written, despite how much I like the idea of an async's deviant behavior ebbing and flowing based on their management of the virus. Its just too binary. Worse, the fact there is a REALLY clear divide now between the async as "normal" and the async being "Async-y" means you lose out on the fundementally interesting question that an async raises: What happens when you can't trust your own mind to be yours?

Honestly, I had considered rewriting psionics a bit to focus more on their creepier aspects, but one of the things that came to mind was hoe to implement it in such a way that it's additive to a character, and not detractive. And unfortunately, the current version seems to be... detractive.

The idea I had was more or less that as an Async you acquire certain personality quirks or obsessions that your character wishes to fulfill whenever possible. Main thing is that it'd need to be solely a roleplay thing, and not a "drop everything and do X while you're being shot at" which is the current issue with Psi in 2e. Rather than necessarily going the mental disorders and "waaacky behaviors" route.

Example would be an Async that has an obsession with dissecting things. They possess an unusual interest in dissecting corpses that they find to learn more about them (or if they manage it poorly possibly killing people to dissect). They won't do so when under fire, pressed for time, etc. but if they're left alone they might attempt to do so if presented the opportunity. Which could be both a good and a bad thing, on one hand the Async might become really good at performing autopsy and thus they can fulfill their compulsion in a productive manner... or perhaps they express it in such a manner that they'll make corpses to dissect.

Main thing is that you need to preserve player's agency and allow them to determine how best to express the traits. Not dictate exactly what the player is going to do.

Dr. Maxwell wrote:
Maybe its an Exturgent strain that, due to the virus's pseudo sapience, decided collaberation with transhumanity was ideal in its own weird as hell way. But the virus consistently making you act like a weird alien neither fits with it being a weird variation of the whispers virus and makes what it could be less varied and interesting. If as your infection rating rose your behavior overall changed rather than the chance of the virus throwing a tantrum changed, it would give GMs more leway to decide what the virus is.

Well, I mean the human genome is composed of partially viral DNA, and our own bodies naturally house a lot of viruses in our microbiome. Being beneficial to transhumanity is definitely a good way to ensure survival and propagation when you really think about it. Things like the Avocado wouldn't exist without human intervention, but it's still around to this very day because we preserved and cultivated it. So if the virus is so smart, I wouldn't put it past it to decide that being a symbiont is better than being a parasite in terms of long term survival.

Weirdly, you still cannot get PSI 3 with the "friendly" strain for no adequately explained reason. Personally I'd like that to be an optional thing that could be explored, maybe with some Xenomorphic body-horror added in for extra creepy ("You may have your mind, but the virus has no qualms with altering your biochemistry.")

Honestly, I think that the creepy elements really need more work, I've played a game (Mage the Awakening) that has a propagating mind plague that makes people think in really odd ways.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Quote:
Day 112 — Ever since Master Endymion inducted me into his Legacy, I’ve been having strange dreams. He told me it’s a natural part of the process, as his secrets expand the consciousness in ways unimaginable to other willworkers. Sometimes, though, I wake up feeling… wrong. It’s hard to explain. Maybe I was just groggy or something, but, today, I almost fell out of bed, like I’d forgotten how to use my legs. When I thought about it, though, it was more like I’d never learned how to use them, at all. The feeling passed after a couple of seconds, but I brought it up with Master Endymion anyway. He told me he’d experienced the same sort of thing himself, in the beginning. He said it’s a natural part of the process: as the spirit changes shape, the mind and the body sometimes have to unlearn what they know, so that they can adapt to new ways of thinking and being. He also said it’s natural to be nervous about these changes; just like when one first Awakens to magic, there are adjustments to be made and they’re not always comfortable. I suppose that makes sense.

Quote:
Day 1495 — The waking dreams are getting easier to cope with. Last night, I saw my father walk out of Lola’s shadow and it took me a good ten seconds or so to remember he’s been dead for eight years. He didn’t say anything to me; didn’t even really look at me, now that I think of it. Instead, he wandered off, toward the window, and stared out of it, like he sometimes used to do after my stepmom died. When I glanced out the window and saw kids playing in a park, I remembered that we were at the Consilium meeting house and that there was no park, there. The whole illusion basically fell apart, then. It wasn’t like my dad disappeared, though. It was more like it happens in a dream: he was there and, when I looked back, he just wasn’t, and no trace of him remained. Just after that happened, I had to sit, all of a sudden. I was consumed by this urge to know what my father’s skin felt like, but it scared me, a bit, because I didn’t feel like the one having that thought. It felt like I was an outlet for someone else’s question. I’ve been feeling like that, more and more. I need to talk to Master Endymion. He’s just been so damned busy, lately.

Quote:
Day 2241 — All is well. Remembered to eat, today: grapes, potatoes, salt, beans, milk, snack cakes, mustard, and spinach. Insides reacted poorly. Should eat more? Maybe less. Skin still feels thick. Eyes gelatinous. Unaccustomed to the sensation of the tongue and continually aware of it; very distracting. Meditation may alleviate.

I mean some of these descriptions are definitely creepy or unnerving, and I think Asyncs want to be something closer to that I'd imagine. Though in this case, these descriptions are closer to someone suffering from the Haunting strain, which is genuinely malignant. However, the book clearly states that the experiences of Asyncs and Exsurgent infectees that have the haunting virus are nearly identical, except one eats your mind and the other leaves you in tact if unprepared for the stress of the end result.

Dr. Maxwell wrote:
The idea of the async having to have a relationship with their virus, with the virus waxing and waning, is really damn cool. Like it really is something that I like, its just as is the infection rating A: Just has an incoherent formula for base rating, B: goes down automatically rather than based on anything the async does to "keep a grip" and C: Forces you to lose control of your character in crass, distruptive, annoying, and silly ways that diminish a lot from the setting. Having the async get weirder the more they async is a good idea, it just needs to be executed better.

I don't think that tying PSI power usage to the infection rating is a good mechanic in the long-run. It's certainly interesting, but it does have a lot of disruptive elements and infection rating itself is kind of meaningless as it's less a measure of infection and more of the strain using your powers is... which ought to be represented by something else I think.

Dr. Maxwell wrote:
Asyncs in 2e currently are too "Wacky" and lack the subtle menace they used to have. While its nice that the virus's lore elements are more front and center in the mechanics the way asyncs changed made them too... pop cthuhlu-y. In that its basically now you using psionic superpowers to mess with badguys and deal with a goofy mental compulsion for a bit rather than this omnipresent uncertainty and dread about your own ability to trust your sense of self, when your very brain has obtianed untrustworthy elements that bleed through in ways you may not even notice yourself.

I do wonder how the theory of Embodied Cognition would interact with to Asyncs. Do they act odd or weird because of the virus, or do they act odd or weird because their capabilities have changed, and thus how they interact with the world at large?

Dr. Maxwell wrote:
Make strain be less about weird compulsions that make your PC impossible to play temporarily but instead be "passive" behaviors, like paranoia, sociopathy, overly-chummy behavior, ect, that get more and more intense in ways the PC may or may not notice even notice as your infection rises. Make infection go down not as a matter of time but as the PC actively trying to "get a handle" on the virus and get their brain back into balance. That is actually disturbing, inconvinient, and plays to the subtle menace Asyncs represent better than "Sometimes you get naked and try to lick people and eat their smart pets."

Honestly, the "relationship with the virus" kind of reminds me of the Synergy mechanic of Geist the Sin-Eaters. You're a human who died, and in exchange for being no longer dead you agree to be ridden by a ghost, who has ceased to be entirely human and has developed archetypes that you should feel the need to placate to keep it happy. It whispers in your head things that it'd like you to do, but you don't really have to listen. Though things works better when you have a functional relationship with your Geist. The Geist is ever present in your head, and you can't really get rid of it. None the less it's powerless to truly do anything to you that you don't want.

o11o1 o11o1's picture
So it sounds like there might

So it sounds like there might be a better approach where your Infection Rating doesn't go down naturally, but you have to catharticly enact desires generated by the virus to make that rating go back down?

So what's the penalty if you just let your Infection Rating go higher and higher?

A slight smell of ions....

Reshy Reshy's picture
o11o1 wrote:So it sounds like

o11o1 wrote:
So it sounds like there might be a better approach where your Infection Rating doesn't go down naturally, but you have to catharticly enact desires generated by the virus to make that rating go back down?

So what's the penalty if you just let your Infection Rating go higher and higher?

Well currently Infection Rating is treated more like capacity, rather than any accurate measure of anything. If there's no roleplay considerations involved, the character essentially can use PSI as much as they want. If roleplay considerations are involved, the character becomes nigh unplayable. There's no real middle-ground.

Not to mention while Infection sounds cool, I don't know if it's thematically appropriate for the Watts-MacLeod strain as it mentions that the virus has more or less "run it's course" and them flushes itself out. You get an unwanted house guest in your head, but that's more of an actual relationship than an infection. I genuinely think that a proper stat to reflect how "good" the relationship is with the Async and the Dark Passenger would make more sense.

Two sections from Geist speaking of the relationship between the Sin-Eater and the Geist.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Merging, Not Possession
To the layman’s eye, it appears that the creation of a Sin-Eater is a simple case of possession: perhaps by something a fair bit stranger than an ordinary ghost, but possession nonetheless. That’s not an accurate representation of the process, though: The geist does not fully control the mortal, nor can the geist be exorcised or abjured or otherwise driven out of the Sin-Eater. By the same token, though, the geist is not merely a passenger riding along, slave to the mortal’s whims. The traumatic nature of the Bargain actually causes the two essences to partially merge. The degree to which this merging is complete and total depends greatly on the geist and the mortal host in question. Most Sin-Eaters describe their geist as feeling something like the voice in the back of their head: not quite a complete, separate personality, but more like that part of your own mind that tells you sleeping with your secretary is a bad idea or that you really should stop to help that stranded motorist. The geist is like a conscience: subtle, persistent, and sometimes insidious, it can guilt-trip you or make you feel like a million bucks depending on whether or not you listen to it. The only difference is, unlike your conscience, the geist has its own agenda that may or may not include your best interests.

Some see their geist as an external figure, an ever-present guardian angel looking over their shoulder, a hallucination only they can see. It might speak to them like any mortal man or woman (though perhaps in a voice no human throat could replicate), or it might “speak” through other means. Perhaps its voice manifests as EVP (electronic voice phenomena) in the hiss of a dead TV channel, or maybe it rearranges the words printed on signs in the Sin-Eater’s vicinity. While seeing the geist as an omnipresent but still separate companion might be more comforting for the Host, it’s all in her head: her geist is every bit a part of her soul as the geist who whispers in the back of its host’s mind.

Sin-Eaters who are in tune with their geists can communicate with them on a higher level. Some geists communicate with words, but others dump fragmentary images, emotions, or ideas directly into their hosts’ minds. Given that geists are even farther removed from humanity than other specters, this communication is often fragmentary at best. Some Sin-Eaters make it their goal to piece together their geist’s history, to find out who it once was and what kept it in the mortal world after it died. They might even try to resolve their geists’ anchors and let them pass on to whatever afterlife awaits. Whether such a feat, if it’s even possible, would be a release from the Sin-Eater condition or tantamount to suicide is a hotly debated topic.


Spoiler: Highlight to view
Two Souls, One Flesh
That’s where the Sin-Eater comes in. A free-roaming geist is free to indulge its strange desires as it will, hampered only by its ability to physically manifest and influence the world of the living. Bonding with a Sin-Eater allows the geist unparalleled ability to influence the world of flesh, but that ability comes at the cost of control. While the geist is bound into a mortal host, the host is in control. All the geist can do is nudge and tempt and whisper — with the rare exception of Sin-Eaters whose Synergy has dropped perilously low, the geist cannot exert direct control over the shared body.

Once they realize that they are in the driver’s seat (something the geist often tries to prevent as long as possible), Sin-Eaters must decide what they’re going to do about that fact. Some try to ruthlessly suppress their geists, never indulging its nature in even the smallest ways and resolutely pretending that voice in their head isn’t there. Most give the geist some amount of free rein, checking the darker extremes of its desires but otherwise cooperating with it. The Sin-Eater who carries the Burning Woman inside him might take a road trip to California when the wildfires start burning, or he might purge a haunted house by burning it down, but he stops short of dousing his enemies in kerosene and lighting them up. Then, of course, there are some Sin-Eaters who willingly indulge their geist’s every twisted whim. They might do it because they themselves are sick, depraved bastards, or they might do it because they’re weak-willed cowards who are just happy to have someone to tell them what to do; but whatever their motivation, they’re undeniably dangerous.

While it's a totally different game with different themes, there's enough similarities (at least in the basic premise) that I feel the need to compare the two. Sin-Eaters are weird people who have voices in their heads and are capable of doing some very scary supernatural things. Asyncs are weird people who have voices in their heads and are capable of doing some very scary supernatural things.

Also, as is, Infection Rating isn't really your relationship with the virus, but rather just your character freaking out more and more when their "capacity" is taxed, rather than the old system of just taking damage. I honestly think that the Infection Rating (or whatever future permutation) should really be separate from the "energy" you use to activate PSI abilities. They should be related, but not identical. Currently they are identical. I mean at a very basic level one could make it so that if the Async's "Synergy" stat is high the Async gets a bonus to PSI activation rolls as the Dark Passenger is actively aiding in the process. Conversely, if it's low you'd get a penalty to PSI activation as the Dark Passenger is actively hindering your use of PSI.

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